SAFETY FLAGS ARE FOR YOUR SAFETY

A tadpole trike is a very safe vehicle to ride … far more so than an “upwrong” (upright) bike. Motorists tend to show much more respect and courtesy to tadpole trikes than they do a regular bicycle. However, motorists must “see” them first in order for the rest to follow. Since a tadpole trike is low to the ground and relatively small motorists need help seeing the trike. It is imperative that we do what we can to help be seen.

Safety flags are essential on a tadpole trike in my opinion. And when it comes to safety flags I am fully convinced that they should be flags that do the job. Otherwise why bother?  All too many I see are next to worthless as they can’t be seen for one reason or another. Thru the years I have had several different flags on my trikes. Some were better than others but I always made sure what I was using were highly visible.  I finally ended up making my own flags (actually I had them made by a friend who sews). I really like what I have now as they are highly visible and very effective. Here is a video showing them.

As I state in the video safety flags should be about safety … our safety … and not about advertising for the trike manufacturer. I don’t know of a single safety flag provided by a trike manufacturer that is worth having. They are usually too small to be seen, not bright enough to be seen, wrong ineffective dimensions to move about attracting attention, too stiff to move about to attract attention, and so on.

Some flags I have tried were very effective as far as being seen but they didn’t hold up to daily use. There are factory made flags one can purchase which are far superior to to the flags which come with trikes from the manufacturer. I have had some of them. Again, safety flags are supposed to be about our safety so I want something that will do the job. These flags I fly are large enough to be seen, bright enough to catch one’s attention, and soft enough to flap around quite well and get noticed. Also the black border around my safety orange flag really helps it stand out and be seen. The safety yellow/green flag has a reflective border around it that shines brilliantly when light hits it.

The human eye sees the color green the best followed by yellow and then orange. Red and blue are not good colors as far as what we see. Obviously the popular fluorescent colors, otherwise known as safety green yellow and orange, show up the best. I personally like a combination of these colors as I think they show up better than just one of these colors by itself. As you can see in the image below blues and purples are bad but dark red is the worst.

colors human eyes see best

SoundWinds makes some pretty good flags. Here are some examples of some I like:

safety flag 1 sound winds air arts fan banner flag spinner flags

I like spinner flags, at least some of them anyway, but one needs to be aware that they can be problematic if you are riding with others and ride close together the person behind you will be eating it from time to time. I mean … talk about “in your face”!  🙂  Also they can catch on things as you ride along. I have had them ripped off when they caught on something. I also lost one when it got pulled out of the holder and I didn’t notice it for awhile. I back tracked to find it but someone apparently beat me to it and got a free spinner flag out of the deal. My spinner flag had streamers on it which really help it be seen. However, those streamers make it bad as far as catching on things. Here is a picture of my spinner flag. It had highly glistening foil in addition to the colored material. It spun around like crazy. The ribbons were constantly getting tangled and tied into knots as well as fraying. Fortunately they were cheap … $1 apiece at a nearby Dollar General store.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Speaking of streamers … last year a cycling friend of mine bought a very colorful streamer made of glistening foil like material. I wish I could find a photo of one like it but I have searched online and found nothing. Anyway while riding out in bright sunlight it really catches your eye. Here is a photo of similar material and form but his has multi colors in it.

foil streamers

Wearing clothing of the safety green, yellow or orange color is very helpful as well. When I see cyclists out there wearing this sort of clothing they can readily be seen way off in the distance. Those safety colors just catch the eye.

green jacket

In addition to using good safety flags I think having good flashing headlight(s) and taillight(s) are essential. I am talking about daytime riding here so please don’t write comments about using a flashing light and blinding motorists. When riding in the daytime I have my headlight pointed up slightly so that the light is aimed about eye level for motorists and pedestrians. This helps immensely in their seeing the lights.

I have frequently asked people what caught their eye first … my flags or my lights. Most say the lights, especially the flashing headlight. Of course, it depends upon whether they are ahead of me coming toward me or to my side. Obviously if they are off to my side the lights are not going to do the job. So the flags are important as they see them. Even if they are in front of me or behind me and they see the lights first they also tell me that they saw the flags right afterwards. Both are very important!

Riding tadpole trikes is a lot of fun, but be safe out there!

RIDEKICK ELECTRIC BIKE REVIEW

Lots of folks are into electric motorized tadpole trikes. One option is the Ridekick trailer pulled behind a trike. It has the battery and motor on board and can push the trike along.

ridekick on tadpole

http://electricbikereview.com/ridekick/power-trailer/

Most definitely anyone considering one of these units would do well to read the review as the list of pros and cons is interesting.

Here is a YouTube video of this product and here is the description of the video: The Ridekick is a bicycle trailer with built in motor that pushes the rider like an electric bike. It’s easy to connect and disconnect, learn more in this review and interview with the CEO of Ridekick.

The approximate price is $700. The top speed is about 19 mph motor power only. The standard lead acid battery is good for about 12 miles (45 minutes) of riding while the lithium battery is good for about 25 miles (2 hours). The lithium battery version is about $1359. The unit weighs in at about 43 pounds with lead acid battery and 38 pounds for the lithium battery version. Battery replacement is $125 for the lead acid and $795 for the lithium battery. Charge time for the batteries is 5 hours for the lead acid and 3.3 hours for the lithium. The batteries can be recharged an estimated 400 times for the lead acid or 1,500 times for the lithium before degradation.

The trailer has a cargo volume of 41.8 Liters and can haul up to 75 pounds of cargo.

ridekick carrying capacity

I am sure it isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, but some may like it. For sure you need to know the rules where you are riding. On our local trails here where I am at motorized vehicles are not allowed. It is lesser money than most electrice trikes. Extra batteries could be purchased and extend the time and distance the trike could be ridden. Of course, pedaling will also increase the time and distance. And pedaling is the whole purpose … exercise!

tadpole trikes … bring out the kid in ya’ 🙂

FREE GIFT awaits you!

[Update] Ridekick trailers are sold out through the end of 2014. The company is refining the product and working on the next iteration. All existing warranties are being honored and the company is still in business.

OUT OF SHAPE

For many of us who live where we have winter to deal with we either can’t or don’t get out to get exercise. I am talking specifically about riding a tadpole trike,

Steve on new trike at Foster Park

but it is also true of nearly any type of exercise one can name other than winter sports such as ice skating, snow skiing, etc. As a result we get “out of shape”( or out of physical conditioning) … to varying degrees depending upon what we do or don’t do in the way of other forms of exercise. As for me personally I have bad knee joints due to osteoarthritis and I can’t walk much. I used to walk a lot before this happened and wish I still could could as I know it is great exercise and I have always enjoyed walking. Anyway, with this past winter being one of the worst on record the only exercise I got was inside the house other than lots of snow removal outside. When the weather conditions finally improved enough I could get outside to ride my tadpole trike I quickly learned that I was extremely out of shape … far more so than any previous year. I mentioned it to my two friends I ride with. One of them spends 6 months out of the year in southern Florida. When I emailed him and told him about being out of shape he replied back “round is a shape”. He is going to get a knuckle rub on the old noggin’ when he returns up here to the north. 🙂 

round is a shape

All kidding aside, being out of shape is not a laughing matter. I am 67 years old and I am finding that the older I get the harder it is to try to lose weight and get in shape. About the first 2/3 of this past winter I did pretty good as far as maintaining my weight. I usually gain about 15 to 20 pounds over the winter. This winter I started off doing great and experienced very little weight gain. However, by the last 1/3 “all bets were off” as I started gaining back weight and ended up about where I usually am each winter. The only difference is I fell way behind in my physical conditioning since I was not able to get out and ride thru the winter. Yesterday was my longest ride thus far this Spring … about 30 miles. The thing I am most concerned about is I have noticed over the last 2 or 3 years that I am not nearly as motivated as I used to be. Just a few years ago it was not uncommon for me to ride 40 or more miles per day. Just two years ago I managed to ride the most miles of anyone in Fort Wayne signed up for the National Bicycle Challenge.

https://nationalbikechallenge.org/

I entered this national bike challenge but for me it turned into a competition trying to outdo those who were leading. I managed to do so but it became challenging indeed and no longer fun. So I don’t do it anymore even though there are some who want me to. I am just not interested as I know it would turn into another competition thing and I don’t care to do that. In order to take and keep the lead I was riding a lot of 65 to 85 miles days. That was just too much. Now I rarely ride a 40 mile day and most days are 25-35 miles when I am in as good of shape I obtain thru the riding season (Spring, Summer & Fall).  I have found that for me I need to do what I can to keep myself as motivated as possible. Part of that is keeping my riding fun. When it becomes work and drudgery then I lose motivation. A few years ago riding 40 plus miles a day was fun. Now it usually isn’t so I don’t do it anymore. What can I say?

Update: Since I wrote this I have added e-motor assist to my trike and it has turned things around for me. Now I once again enjoy riding and am getting more exercise than I got before when I didn’t have it. And I am often riding 40 plus … even 50 plus miles a day.

FREE GIFT awaits you!

TADPOLE TRIKE CONSTRUCTION – THE SCIENCE OF TADPOLE TRIKE STEERING

For those who want to build a tadpole trike it is imperative that they understand the science of the steering and ensure that they “get it right”. The “center point steering”, camber and caster settings, “Ackerman steering principle” and “toe in setting” all must be correct. Otherwise there will be “trouble in River City” and it could even lead to serious endangerment for the rider. At the very least handling will be greatly effected and tire wear will be a serious problem. When I first bought my Catrike Trail the dealer had the toe in off considerably and my brand new front tires wore out in only 30 miles of riding.

HERE is a webpage with a good explanation of toe in, toe out, camber and caster … what each is and what each does.

In the first video below this man says toe in should be 1/8 inch. That is too much for most trikes. 1/16 inch is preferable and is what is recommended by most trike manufacturers. Actually zero toe in maybe the ticket for some trikes including mine as with my weight on it I end up with about 1/16 inch toe in. There in lies another matter … it is best to set the toe in with the rider seated. This usually means a second person is needed as the mechanic to do the adjusting. It is not imperative that it is done this way, but it does work best. The more the rider weighs the more the toe in will change as the rider is seated on the trike. The closer you can get to zero toe in the better as long as the handling is ok. Never have toe out however as the handling will greatly suffer as a result.

Here are a couple of videos illustrating and explaining about these things.

As to actually measuring and setting the complex angles involved when I built my tadpole trike I simply used one of these (angle finder) …

ANGLE FINDER

As long as you use it properly and read it accurately it works fine for getting things right. My homemade trike rode and handled superbly so I must have got all the steering geometry correct.

The newer higher tech digital readout types would probably be better to use though …

digital angle meter

digital angle meter 2

FREE GIFT awaits you!

HOME BUILT RECUMBENT TRIKE, DETAILED PLANS AND CONSTRUCTION STEPS

came across this video and thought it might be of interest to others. As a retired weldor/fabricator who has made my own tadpole trike it interests me. Here is a picture of the trike I made. (A friend was riding it when I took this picture so to protect his identity I have hidden his face.)

no face on my homemade tadpole trike

HOME BUILT RECUMBENT TRIKE, DETAILED PLANS AND CONSTRUCTION STEPS

HERE is a website about construction of a tadpole trike. It has several links to other resources.

HERE is a website about construction of an electric motor powered pedal assist tadpole trike. (lots of good information here about trike construction)

HERE is a video about how to make the direct steering handlebars.

And HERE is a listing of all the videos available by the man from the video above.

KEEP ON TRIKIN’

A FREE GIFT awaits you!

CATRIKES IN FLORIDA

ride a Catrike Trail recumbent tadpole trike and take a considerable interest in tadpole trikes. Here is a picture of me sitting on my trike …

new trike 1st pics 004

I just stumbled across a YouTube video which I thought I would share here. It is of a few Catrike riders out for a ride down in Florida. Tadpole trikes are a lot of fun to ride and extremely comfortable. Since they sit so low to the ground they handle great. Some compare riding one to driving a go cart or sports car. I would not go so far as to say that, but they do handle great. Catrike tadpole trikes are manufactured in Orlando, Florida.

Every year Catrike sponsors a rally for Catrike owners. I would love to go and participate in it. It is open to everyone regardless of what brand of trike or even bicycle they ride. Here are some videos of the 2014 rally. They show many trikes  up close as they are gathering to go for a group ride on one of the local trails near Orlando. They also show the many trikes and bikes riding on the trail.

And here is another video of the 2014 rally. This one is considerably longer but well made and interesting …

In addition to the organized and unorganized rides there is also a factory tour available. Being a retired weldor/fabricator taking such a tour would greatly interest me. I built my own recumbent bicycle and tadpole trike before buying factory made ones. Here are pictures of both:

my homemade recumbent with 2 steering heads retouched

I never got the bike painted as I ended up cutting it up to use some of the parts to make the tadpole trike.

my homemade tadpole trike with Luke aboard out at Kreager Park retouched

There is also an annual Catrike rally held in Austin, Texas . And there are a few other rallies held in various locations for other brands or for all brands. One is held in Oregon which is for “recumbents” … both bikes and trikes.

Tadpole trikes are also known as reverse trikes since there are two wheels in the front and one wheel in the back. This makes for a more stable design. Although they are becoming more and more popular and sales are up considerably they are still not all that common in many places so when people see them they often don’t know what they are seeing and show an interest in them. Certainly many people comment about how neat they are and that they really like them. Lots of questions are asked about them as people know and understand very little about them. A few of the most asked questions are:

“How do you steer it?”

“Is that comfortable to ride?”

“How fast will it go?”

“Does it have a motor?”

“How much do they cost?”

and the one that I am always amazed when I am asked …

“How do you balance it?”    …  Yes, I have been asked that a couple of times.

I highly recommend Catrike as I think they are one of the best made and designed tadpole trikes available and they are the only** brand name trike totally made in the U.S. Most come from China/Taiwan. Some come from England, Germany, and a couple of other European countries and from Australia.

Anyone interested in checking out these Catrikes further can view their website … http://www.catrike.com/

** There are a small number of trike manufacturers who also make their trikes here in the U.S., but their sales are quite low so I am not counting them as part of the factory produced trikes. TerraTrike manufactures one of their models here in the U.S. but most of their models come from Taiwan.

THE BEST BICYCLE TIRE MONEY CAN BUY

As far as I am concerned the very best bicycle tire money can buy is the Schwalbe Marathon Plus. I have been using them now for several years and since I switched to them I have never had a flat tire caused from anything external. I have had one inner tube failure caused by the a Mr. Tuffy tire liner which I have since removed as they are not needed and do cause flats internally such as I experienced. Before I use to deal with a lot of flats. I joke about these tires being nearly bullet proof and I think they come close. They are indeed quite amazing!

Schwalbe-Marathon-Plus-tire

schwalbe marathon plus 20x1-75 406 cutaway

I personally ride a Catrike Trail recumbent tadpole trike. Here is a picture of me on it.

new trike 1st pics 004

It is a blast to ride and extremely comfortable. Many compare riding a tadpole trike to driving a go cart or sports car as they handle so well. I have ridden this trike over 33,000 miles. Before I bought this trike I made one similar to it although it was made out of mild steel. My Catrike is made out of aluminum.

Over the years I have tried various other Schwalbe tires on my trikes. All of the various types of Schwalbe tires are quite good … among the very best made in the world, but the Marathon Plus out does them all … very flat resistant and long wear. I highly recommend these tires. I run the 20 X 1.75 406 size. They also come in 20 X 1.35 406 as well as larger diameter sizes for those who have a larger size rear wheel. By far the best price I have found is ordering them online from a company in the UK …   Merlin Cycles   They offer excellent service and free shipping if ordering a minimum of $75. With three or 4 tires that is easy enough to meet the requirement. I used to buy them from a company in Germany …  bike-discount.de   They are the second cheapest prices I have found. They also offer excellent service. I think a maximum of 4 tires can be ordered at one time for the flat rate shipping charge they have. Even with the shipping charge they have always been much cheaper than prices I have found elsewhere with the exception of Merlin Cycles. With this German source the best price per tire is had by ordering 4 at a time. I have found that the price per tire varies from time to time so sometimes I pay more or less than other times. Early on I paid $37 something apiece. Recently I paid $29.45 apiece. Again, the cost thru Merlin Cycles has been better.

I will readily admit that these tires are probably the most difficult tires to mount that I have ever encountered. However, there is a way which once known and followed make it much simpler. Once you learn how to do this it is fairly easy. Here is a video showing how to do it:

FREE GIFT awaits you!

TADPOLE RIDER IS BACK

Some of you probably know that I used to have a blog called Tadpole Rider. I wrote it for 9 months and put a lot of work into creating it. I made the decision a few months ago to not only discontinue it but to totally delete it. Later I had second thoughts about deleting it but it was too late. So now here I am starting all over. One of my other blogs, Steves Mixed Bag, has articles on it about tadpole trikes as it was my intention from the start to include such articles. But then I decided that I should have a separate stand alone blog for tadpole trikes and so Tadpole Rider was reborn. I did not release that title when I deleted the first blog so “Tadpole Rider” (tadpolerider.wordpress.com) is not available. That’s why you see tadpolerider2. It is the best I could do.

I might mention that my friend and fellow tadpole blog writer, Steve Greene of TrikeAsylum, also suggested to me that I create a separate blog just for tadpole trikes rather than use my one blog for everything.

It is going to take time to get this going. I may attempt to reproduce some of the pages I had previously such as the listing of tadpole trikes by price range as I thought that was a practical and handy resource to make available.

I personally ride a Catrike Trail tadpole trike.

tadpole rider for blog